Today is the first day of WorldCon in San Antonio and I’m not there.
I was supposed to be. I got a membership, made a reservation, arranged for child care, all that. Then… Well, then the garage tried to kill me. I was out trying to shut the door, and it fell off its track. It didn’t crush me, but it did manage to trap me inside the garage for a little while until I managed to pry it up and crawl out.
This was the last in a long line of not-so-subtle signals that we might need a new garage. Which costs money. Hotel rooms and flights and cons cost money too, and, well, I figured I should prioritize the thing that seemed more likely to cause me or my family major injury. So, no Texas for me.
Does this really matter, writing-wise? Maybe? Some? I know it matters to me, because I’m losing out on a chance to see friends. Otherwise, it’s hard to say. Every con is a chance to meet new people, to reestablish contacts, to hear about new opportunities, and hell, to just gossip. Going to cons has without a doubt been very useful to me as a writer. So while missing this one con will (hopefully) not cripple my career, it hurts a bit not to go.
Partially because of the sense of opportunities missed.
Mostly though, it’s probably because there are people having fun without me.
Sooner or later a fantasy author is going to talk about Game of Thrones. Dear reader, today is that day.
Unless you’ve been living in solitary confinement, you know that George R. R. Martin’s wildly popular epic fantasy Song of Ice and Fire series–the first book of which is called Game of Thrones–has been made into an HBO series. The series was wildly popular before the first frame of the show had been filmed in circles that read epic fantasy. That’s a relatively small circle. Then the HBO series made it Cool to Like Fantasy, and now I see a suit-and-tie twenty-somethings reading the series while riding the morning train. Epic Fantasy is trendy.
(We can argue that it’s been trendy since Harry Potter, or it that it had its heyday in the 1980’s, but that’s a discussion for another time).
I read GoT several years ago when I was on an epic fantasy kick and gobbled up Jordan, Feist, Goodkind, as well as Martin. I got a few books in before I burned out on epic fantasy in general. I’ve recently gotten turned on to the epics again–thanks, Beaulieu and Weeks–and so I was thinking about picking it up again. I decided watch the series instead of reading the books, mostly because it’s something Ken and I can do together. So far the series is really brilliant, and while I want to keep watching, it makes me want to read the books more. Which means I’ll be one of those trendy people on the train reading Game of Thrones. Except my book will have the older cover, and the spine will be broken, and it’ll be like getting reacquainted with an old friend.
During my first year as a reporter, I got into schedules. Every week, my work schedule changed: some days I went in at 10 am, sometimes at 5 pm. Some weeks I worked weekends, on others I didn’t. It made getting into a routine impossible. So every week, I sat down and figured out when I’d do stuff like grocery shopping or laundry or, of course, writing.
I still make a schedule for myself, though now I only review it once a year or so–my work schedule hasn’t changed in the past almost-five years. Recently I’ve been taking a look at it again. I’ve been trying to do a lot of writing in the evenings, leaving Saturdays mostly open. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out as well as I’d like.
So a couple weeks ago I worked out a new, weekend-focused schedule. I still get in at least an hour of writing most weekdays, but my evenings are mostly free for non-writing stuff. That means a lot more writing on Saturdays. I’m hoping that creating a big chunk of continuous time will help me be more productive, and that having some free time during the week will be more relaxing. Preliminary results are looking good.
Still, I’d love a magic button that would actually create more time instead of just shuffling things around.
This week I’m travelling, outlining the new book, and still riding the Gen Con buzz (and fatigue). Which means I have little in the way of an actual blog entry, except that I did hit an interesting milestone in my writing career this past week.
The new book I’m working on will be my tenth. That’s including the three unpublished trunk novels that will never see the light of day, but still, it’s kind of amazing when I sit here and think about it. I’ve come a long way since that first book, and it makes me hope I’ll get to write another ten after this.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have a book to write right now, and a deadline. Yep, that means we are headed into the dreaded first draft stage. Wish me luck.
GenCon has come and gone, and that marks the end of summer. Which is a big deal for me this year. Because Kindergarten.
The youngest is five now, and she headed bravely off to school this week, with minimum difficulties. I had the traditional parental anxieties, but not too bad. While the house seems awful quite during the day, after ten years of babies and toddlers, I’ve decided that’s something I can live with.
There’s been something else that’s been gnawing at me though. Suddenly, for the first time in a decade, I have time. Time to sit and to write and revise and to do all those things I’ve been wishing I could do. Suddenly… I’ve lost my biggest excuse. I have time to write. Lots of time. And if I don’t write, I can no longer blame the children. It’s just me, slacking off. That makes me a little nervous. If I don’t have a dozen books published and five Hugos by the time she’s in fifth grade, that’s all on me, where’s my reason? I’ll have to fake Ebola, and it’s hard to bleed at will.
Combine that kind of irrational worry with the usual difficulties of trying to set up a brand new schedule, and I’ve been a little tense this week. Thankfully, I’ve been settling down though. Get up, take the kids to school, come home and let the internet eat my life until 9. Then write until threeish, with breaks for eating and cleaning and wandering in circles trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to name the waiter in third scene and why is that so important? The first few days were rough, but today it all kind of worked. I wrote. I revised. I only chased the cats a little. It was good.
I think I can make this work.
Although I might have to take Minecraft off this computer.
Gen Con 2013 has come and gone. I had a blast talking, laughing, playing games, and schmoozing with fellow authors. I ate salted brownies and cupcakes from food trucks and stayed up late. I’m already looking forward to next year.
I said all of that to say this: I’m tired. I have nothing witty to say about writing. Or anything else, really. Well, I could probably chat about networking or some such, but really I need to veg for a few days. Next week I’ll be back to my usual shenanigans. Scout’s honor.*
*I was never a Girl Scout or even a Brownie so I’m not sure how much weight that holds, but whatever.
Back from Gen Con. The Writer’s Symposium was well run once again. I attended some great panels–I should probably do a longer post about Mary Robinette Kowal’s presentation on doing readings–and hung out with some good friends both old and new. Played a lot of games. I’m already looking forward to next year.
But first, back to the grind. What with my July vacation, my week of being sick, and the convention, I feel behind on everything. I’m actually not behind on *everything*, just some things. Now is the time to start catching up.
In all likelihood I’m on the way to Indianapolis as you read this, but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can also blather about writing research. Not so much about the actual nuts and bolts of research; really, I’m just passing on a few cool websites I’ve found while trolling science blogs for my day job.
One of the great things about being a writer is creatively killing characters. (In all honesty, it’s been awhile since one of my characters has bitten the dust; I’m overdue.) Sure, bombs and explosions and gunfire and knife fights are good ways to kill Joe Blow Redshirt. But what about poison? It’s not just for Agatha Christie novels, you know. These blogs are great if you need or want your poison with a side of medical science.
The Poison Review. This one is written by medical toxicology professor and former ER doctor. He talks a lot of poisons of all ilk, timely intoxicants (if a new bath salts story breaks he’s all over it), and little-known chemicals that somehow find their way into someone’s blood stream. If you’re not a medical or laboratory professional, some of his jargon might get a little, well, jargony. But you’re doing research, right? Keep researching.
Elemental. Part of Wired magazine’s science blog block, Deborah Blum writes about poison from an investigative journalist’s perspective. She’s as much into why a man would poison his wife as how the particular poison affected the deceased. She’s also very much into the history of poisons, which is cool to read about. She’s written a book on the subject (The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York) that’s on my list of books to buy.
Do you have any good poison references?
I’ll be at Gen Con this weekend.
And by this weekend, I mean tomorrow night. I’m leaving right after work, which means it’s time to pack. See you next week.
Following Gary and Kelly’s example, and because I love talking Gen Con, I thought I’d give everyone a heads-up where you can find me at the convention this week. My schedule’s pretty light this year, but I will have shiny pretty Mark of the Dragonfly postcards to give out to anyone who wants one, so if you see me strolling the exhibit hall, do come up and say hi.
Other than that, you can find me at the A Night with Dungeons and Dragons Sundering launch party on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. I’ve heard rumors there will be a murder–and food. Double win. I’ll also be at the Candlekeep Presents: The Harpers at Twilight gathering on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. I think this event ran to almost midnight last year, or whenever they shut down the room. It’s a whole lot of fun and a great chance to talk Forgotten Realms lore.
I am planning on attending several of the Writer’s Symposium events, because wow, have you seen the lineup of events and authors this year? Please check it out if you have any interest in writing. I started attending these seminars early in my writing career, and they were incredibly helpful to me. Even if you don’t have an interest in writing, there is a full schedule of author readings, which is the perfect thing to do if you need a break from the crowd in the exhibit hall. Trust me, just go, kick back, and hear some great writers read their work.
Wow, just writing this blog entry made me all excited about the convention. See you there!